Industry leaders in Maine worry about skills shortage

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The current gridlock in Washington has caused a skills gap in the nation that is detrimental to the marine industry work force.

That’s according to an op-ed that ran Monday in the Bangor Daily News by Maine Marine Trades Association executive director Susan Swanton and Front Street Shipyard CEO Tuesdi Woodworth, which commends U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for efforts to dedicate federal funding to the creation of industry-led partnerships that would better align employment and job training services with the needs of in-demand industries.

“Maine could face a greater skills shortage if we don’t act soon. According to the National Skills Coalition, middle-skill jobs — positions that require more than a high school diploma, but not necessarily a four-year degree — make up nearly half of the jobs in Maine, but only 44 percent of workers have the skills to fill these jobs,” the opinion piece stated. “These make up the largest portion of the jobs in the marine trades. Boatbuilding and other marine trades require advanced training and certifications that are costly for Mainers and their employers. But we’re taking the helm and figuring out ways to work together to address these skills challenges.”

Collins is co-sponsoring the Strengthening Employment Clusters to Organize Regional Success, or Sectors Act, in the Senate.

“Businesses need lawmakers in Washington to work together and pass the Sectors Act, a proven solution to aligning employment and training programs with the skills businesses need,” the piece read.